Female Founder Series: Alli Schaper
Establishing a strong community and advocating consumer education is at the heart of Alli Schaper’s company, Zigii. Alongside experienced health practitioners and nutritionists, Alli packages bundles of the top brands in the wellness industry, which can be delivered to customers’ doorsteps or travelers’ destinations. As these companies come together through Zigii, a community is created with the purpose of helping the world get healthier.
What gap did you see in the wellness industry that Zigii fills?
The original idea for the company really started because of the gap in travel. Zigii is no longer oriented on this but I was travelling Monday through Thursday, working as a corporate consultant with a travel budget. When I travelled, hotels would only have one granola mix that’s taking over the entire marketplace — and nothing else. As a wellness-focused person, that was frustrating. I would think, ‘Why doesn’t my company sponsor some type of awesome wellness package and deliver it to my destination.’ That was the original idea for Zigii. I also feel there’s a gap in products that have already been vetted that consumers can access. There’s a massive gap in consumer education around wellness. In daily life and on Instagram, we’re overwhelmed with beautiful wellness brands. Every product we work with at Zigii is helping to bridge the gap between consumer education and a gap in community.
A part of the brand’s ethos is inclusivity, so how can the wellness industry be more supportive of diverse entrepreneurs and female founded companies?
What’s been exciting for me is the brands and clients reaching out are requesting companies that are female founded, sustainable and community-oriented. They’re caring more about the mission. There’s all these amazing small brands that exist and now consumers want to pay more attention. There’s also an uptake of more wellness companies being started by females and a community being built. I wouldn’t be where I am without the community.
How have you formed your own community?
As I started to go down this path, I realized how valuable it was to surround myself with people who have gone down similar paths and built successful companies — both peers and mentors like Tracy and Grace. I admire a lot of people in my community at all levels. What I started in tandem with Zigii was a female entrepreneur community. I started hosting dinners and bringing together people with similar passions. The discussions could be as simple as the loneliness of solo-starting a company or even sharing contacts. Connecting peers, providing mentorship, and also being on the receiving end of that mentorship is so valuable.
Did you always see yourself starting a business?
Absolutely not. However, now that I have done it, I feel like I can never go back. I feel more creatively tapped into myself and free in this type of environment. I also really believe in structuring your life around lifestyle design and this lifestyle works way better for me. It doesn’t mean I’m not working twice as hard. Startup life has more hours than corporate America but it’s incredible to see the fruits of your labor. It’s also great to have people join my team because the solo part isn't something I would want to repeat. It’s way more fun to be in partnerships with people. It’s definitely not the path I saw but I’m loving it and I’m excited to see how it develops.
What has been the biggest surprise in starting Zigii?
How much money I spent inefficiently to learn very necessary mistakes. Again, I wouldn’t change that. If I had to do it again, I can do it ten times more efficiently because I learned. Every piece of it has been very valuable. The things I know because of the trial-and-errors are so valuable for everything I do in the future.
As a female entrepreneur, how can consumers support more female-founded companies?
Building social traction is important for awareness. If more women can talk about their founders’ stories than more customers will know about these brands. I love knowing where a company comes from, which is a part of the core of my business model. Most of the companies I work with, I know the founder and they’ve become a friend or close acquaintance. When I go to a company’s website, I immediately go to their story. The more people can share their story in tandem with their product is extremely important.